At Tillamook, we believe cheese should be handled with a little TCLC (tender-cheesy-loving care). Here are a few tips for making your loaf (or shredded or sliced cheese) last longer.
Freezing Tillamook Cheese does prolong its life, but it also changes its texture, making it dry and crumbly. If you still want to freeze your cheese, wrap one pound or smaller portions in moisture-proof, air-tight containers or plastic bags. When you're ready, thaw one in the refrigrator for 24 hours and serve as soon as possible (as if there's any other way to eat Tillamook).
The first rule for cooking with Tillamook Cheese is to have fun. But because cheese is high in protein, it can be tricky to melt properly. If you're making a sauce over the stovetop, it's best to use room temperature, shredded cheese. Add it slowly over moderate heat and use a minimum amount of cooking time to ensure that the cheese blends and melts well. Note that sharp cheeses melt more smoothly than younger cheeses, which may become stringy.
There are rarely leftovers with Tillamook Cheese, but if you find yourself reheating a previously made dish, follow these rules. For cheese sauce, warm over hot water to heat more evenly and prevent burning (a double boiler would work for this). And to heat frozen baked cheese dishes, cover tightly and place in the oven at a moderate temperature until evenly warm.
Keep your cheese in its original wrapper and place it in the coolest, darkest area possible. If you're flying, this is likely your checked suitcase. (Otherwise, ask about restrictions for stowing cheese in your carry-on - it would be a cheese-less tragedy if you had to leave your loaf with security). If you're driving, avoid storing cheese in your trunk. For travel times longer than one day, an ice cooler is your best bet. When you get to your destination, refrigerate your cheese as soon as possible. Or better yet, eat it!
The longer cheddar ages, the sharper it gets. Because we age our cheese naturally, it's possible to continue the aging process in your own home. Keep your cheddar in its original package, in a dark, cold part of the refrigerator, and then wait...a year or two, or ten!